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PIX11 WEATHER CENTER — A blizzard will grip Long Island Thursday night into Friday, with the entire region expecting a significant snow storm that could close highways.

The Blizzard Warning is in effect only for Nassau and Suffolk counties from 6 p.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday, but New York City, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut are under a Winter Storm Warning. Central and southern New Jersey are under a Winter Storm Watch. Complicating the storm will be brutal cold, with lows on Friday in the single digits and wind chill well below zero in places.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will activate the State Emergency Operations Center at 10 a.m. Thursday.

For blizzard conditions to exist, visibility needs to be reduced to 1/4 mile or less, with sustained winds of at least 35 mph. These conditions must last for 3 hours.

The complicated storm heading toward the tri-state area will begin to dump snow overnight, with about an inch by Thursday morning.

Total snowfall for norther New Jersey, New York and much of Long Island will be 6 to 10 inches. The north shore of Long Island, Westchester and Putnam counties and southwestern Connecticut will see 10 or more inches of snow.

On Long Island, winds will reach 25 to 35 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph, leading all around the region to considerable blowing and drifting of snow.

New York City prepares for storm

The city’s 365 salt spreaders are loaded and ready to go and ready for whatever comes, said Sanitation Department spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins.

The plows will hit the road the moment there is a trace of snow. There are 250,000 tons of salt this year on reserve.

Employees will start split shifts starting at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

New York state on alert ; highways could be closed

“Mother Nature is reminding us of who is in charge,” said Cuomo in a conference call Wednesday afternoon while describing a complex storm that “promises to be serious.”

Cuomo said he had not spoken to newly installed May0r Bill de Blasio about the storm, but that the state has been working closely with city officials on preparations.

He said there is a very real possibility of road closures, possibly the LIE.  Other closures could include Interstates 84 and 684, and the New York State Thruway possibly on Thursday afternoon.

“We don’t want people to use their vehicle to commute in the morning and can’t get home tomorrow night because roads are closed,” Cuomo said.

He also warned of criminal penalties if drivers take to the roads if they have been ordered closed.

The governor advised mass transit as an excellent option. “We want to give people advance warning that these major roads might be closed.”